Sunday, November 17, 2013

Protest songs

Oh, where have the years flown?
I may not have any photographs with me to chronicle my journey, but my life in years just opened up as I unpacked a battered box full of tapes and CDs -- the earliest music tapes from about 30 years ago.  My first set of protest songs -- received as a gift from S for writing my first angry feminist poem (printed under Julie's name on the back cover of a major international women's conference proceedings and lost from my own files now) -- with songs of Donovan Leitch, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Bob Marley, John Lennon...There are a few sad-sounding songs in Spanish too (from Nicaragua? Ecuador?) How I cared for this tape and worried I would lose it or tape over it (yes, the two squares at the bottom are carefully broken to prevent that from happening). 

Then I did not know that 'Universal soldier' was written by Canadian Buffy Sainte-Marie.  Here is Donovan's rendition.

Catch the Wind by Donovan.

Pete Seeger singing 'What did you learn in school today?'

John Lennon singing 'If you had the luck of the Irish.'

Farewell Angelina by Baez. 

Baez at her saddest and best in "Cambodia" brings a flood of tears from such a long time ago for me.
If I ever have a chance to go back in time and do a PhD all over again, it will be in figuring out why protest songs move you in such a powerful way.  

Here is a page dedicated to protest songs in Russia.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


An old favorite of mine is Tori Amos' 'God'.

God sometimes you just don't come through
God sometimes you just don't come through
Do you need a woman to look after you?
God sometimes you just don't come through.
 And a friend commented that she supposes God is a man...

I wanted to respond that Tori's 1994 video for this song was shot inside a Karni Mata temple; that while her dad is a Reverend (United Methodist), she explored pantheistic religions through her paternal grandfather, and by the way, what leads my friend to assume that Tori's God is a patriarch (don't women with power need looking after too?).  

Instead I just offered John Lennon's response.   Nothing as powerful as Lennon's lyrics to herd all of us cats...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kid speak -- Part One

Divya: Rahul, you put water in my eye!

Rahul: Well, just spit it out of your eye!

Mom (fascinated): Spit it out?

Rahul (correcting self): Well, just drop it out of your eye, Divya!


Rahul had his hand on the window (glass) of the car and was pressing the power-window button up, down, up, down, with the other.

Mom: Whatcha doin', Rahul?

Rahul: Nothing. Just giving my hand a ride.


Rahul: Is a documentary a dictionary on TV?


Divya: Are people the best animals?


Rahul (at 6 years of age): You look too cool, Mommy. Like a rock star!


Dad (loading the dishwasher): Rahul, can you bring the glasses from the living room?

Rahul (cheekily) brings his eye glasses that he hates to wear.


Lekha: Do you want pepperoni?  Or pepper only?


Divya: If you eat yourself, will you be inside out?


Rahul (at 5&1/2 years of age; impatient for Mom's attention to turn to him): It is boring to hear about Lekha's and Divya's dreams. It is fun when you listen to my dreams.  


Rahul: Is that a thinking job or a doing job?


Rahul: What is that thing in the hotel room that you and Daddy kept your computer?

Mom: A safe?

Rahul: Yes, and I think my memory is in a safe.



Friday, November 1, 2013

The Ethics of Aesthetics

The caption says, "30 unique photographs from 1959. Christian Dior in Moscow."

And somehow these photographs make me sad, sad, sad. Audrey Hepburns strategically inserted into the pages of 'Soviet Woman' for the sole reason of breathing life into the Hepburns alone.  No give; just take.  

Perhaps not as obviously stark and troubling as malnourished, bow-legged, rheumy-eyed children in remote villages serving as backdrop extras, but the ultimate effect belongs in the category of deprived people serving as props to sell a lifestyle that they could not attain at that time and in that space.  

The cringe-worthiness is made worse when I wonder, 'Did they know exactly what they were doing? Or did they not?'  

Which is more troubling?